3 tips for becoming an exceptional pharmacy leader

December 9, 2013

Do you have the qualities to become an exceptional pharmacy leader? Captain Mark E. Brouker, PharmD, MBA, BCPS, who recently retired from the U.S. Navy's Medical Service Corps after 30 years of service, outlined 3 top leadership qualities during his keynote speech at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Midyear Clinical Meeting in Orlando.

Do you have the qualities to become an exceptional pharmacy leader?

Captain Mark E. Brouker, PharmD, MBA, BCPS, who recently retired from the U.S. Navy's Medical Service Corps after 30 years of service, outlined 3 top leadership qualities during his keynote speech at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Midyear Clinical Meeting in Orlando.

The first quality is caring for your staff and helping them shine. Brouker urged participants to work hard to know their team members by asking them to tell their story. Be sure to ask if their basic needs are being met, talk to them about their professional goals, and find out about their struggles. "It is important to be visible and walk around, so you can find out what is really going on," Brouker said. "You can find out more in a 5-minute visit than reading hours of email."

By walking around, leaders can set the tone and take time to express appreciation for the work of staff members. This is also an opportunity to ask, "how you can help?" and to "mentor, challenge, and encourage," he said.

Brouker said treating staff with dignity and respect is key to developing and building relationships. Be sure to keep cool even when bad news is delivered and make sure to "never shoot the messenger," Brouker said. Reward good staff performance with accolades and try to understand and assess poor performance before taking any action.

The second quality is to project constant optimism even if your day isn't going well. "A pessimistic leader causes more harm than an absent leader," Brouker said. "Be optimistic or fake optimism. If you can't do that, take the day off."

He also spoke about maintaining a healthy work and life balance as a leader. Make time for your family and your own health with exercise. He also stressed the need to "be humble, have fun, and don't take yourself too seriously.

Lastly, Brouker said solid leadership must continue to learn and evolve by taking courses offered by ASHP and ASHP Foundation, such as the Pharmacy Leadership Academy, leadersINNOVATION Masters Series, and leadersEdge Webinar Series. Brouker also suggested regularly reading experts outside of the pharmacy industry.